222 : Miss Servano the Yoruba interpreter, London 1859

At the Old Bailey on 4 July 1859 John Bardoe was charged with stabbing, cutting and wounding a police officer with intent to murder him or cause him grievous harm. He was known as John Black but appears to have been Aude Ojun, an Egba. He feared being kidnapped. It was a London docklands case with an Italian captain and an Italian witness who said the captain had told her about a black man and he was brought to her house (he spoke Genoese-Italian but no English). When he became ill she sought to get him to a hospital. When the police came he locked himself in his room then escaped to the roof. Bardoe was alleged to be a slave. A policeman had twelve cuts from a knife – a doctor testified that three were very serious. Bardoe testified through an interpreter that he had been sold in Lagos, had met two countrymen in London and believed he would have a job with wages but received only food. The knife was for self-defence. Bardoe was found not guilty. His interpreter was ‘Miss M. B. Servano, a native of Yorubah [sic], and educated in England’.
Her name does not reappear in Old Bailey reports and nothing has been traced on her.
Daily News, London 30 June 1859 and oldbaileyonline.org ref t18590704-685.


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